Archive for September, 2009

Day 245. Nevlunghavn to Stavern

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Distance 21km | Time 5hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 245.1 Looking out between islands into a calmer section od the sea round RakkebaeneIt was surprisingly still when I woke at 0600. It was an opportunity I had been waiting for to get round this Brunlanes peninsula between here and Stavern and perhaps the next peninsula between Larvik and Sandefjord. The seas off the Brunlanes peninsula contain the infamous Rakkebåene. This is an area of shoals which extends a long way offshore. In calm weather there is just a current to contend with here but in poor weather with a big south westerly swell it is an infamously difficult area with erratic breaking waves.

I had breakfast, packed up, swept the cabin and was off by 0730. The first 3-4 km was easy. I had the slight wind behind me and the swell was small. I was being protected from the south west swell from the islands extending out from Nevlunghavn. The weather was not that good though and there was the odd shower out of the overcast sky and the wind was picking up. It was already a force three.

I paddled past the shoals at Midtbåene where there were some large breaking waves, and Smorvika bay after which there was a deep inlet. I crossed the inlet and started round the headland to the east of it. There was the odd rumble of thunder and a few showers as I paddled round this largely unproblematic headland to enter Naverfjord.

After crossing Naverfjord the sea looked much more serious. This was Rakkebåene. For about 5 km offshore the seabed was composed of numerous shoals. Sometimes the waves passed over them and just steepened yet other times when a big wave passed over the wave would rear up and topple over in a violent crescendo. I could see numerous areas where the now large swell was breaking and it unnerved me.

The headland on the east side of Naverfjord proved to be very difficult. The waves were large and confused, there was the occasional swell erupting on unseen shoals and the wind was now at least a force 5. I hoped there was an inside route but could not take my hands off the paddle to look at the GPS map. I therefore went inside the headland and hoped. There was no inside route so I returned to paddle out and round. I was just getting nowhere and the sea was boiling white. It was forecast to increase so I called it a day and decided to go in to a beach in Naverfjord.

On the way in there was a tremendous thunderstorm and very heavy rain. The wind had now increased to a force seven and I was very glad I was not out in the middle of Rakkebåene in this.

There were many campsites marked on the map in this bay. I checked a couple out and they were ghost places with 100 or so caravans and nobody about and closed receptions. It looked like I would have to camp or paddle on. The rain stopped as I dithered and some blue sky appeared to the west. The wind also seemed to drop to a force 5 again so I decided to continue to Stavern at least.

I paddled out the 2 km again to the headland I had turned at. It was a slow paddle as it was into the wind. As I approached the headland the swell was back and it was charging in from the south west. I saw a huge set of swells coming and watched them as they approached rapidly. Suddenly the first in this series just grew and grew some 30 metres to my side until it was a good 5 metres high and near vertical and then the whole thing came crashing down, initially in a tube of green water and then an explosion of surf which must have gone up at least 10 metres. The next three swells did exactly the same. After that the sea was just rolling unbreaking small swells again.

This display of raw power unnerved me. There was no indication there was a shoal here from the way the sea behaved until this massive set of swells came through. Had I been 30 metres to the east I would have been in the middle of it. Despite the fact I was perpendicular to it I would have been turned end over end. I thought twice about continuing and then considered the dull beach and abandoned caravan sites which were the alternative and carried on. Luckily I did not see any more rogue waves breaking on hidden shoals. It is for this reason Rakkebåene is infamous. These monsters would have turned over most cabin cruisers.

Day 245.2 Approaching the end of Rakkebaene and the Stavernodden Fyr lighthouseWhen I got to the headland there were very choppy seas with many small breaking swells. I waited and watched for 10 minutes before I made a dash through what I thought was a safe path. After the headland it was relatively calm. There were about 4 such headlands but each one got easier as I went further east. There were also more islands to hide behind as I approached the final headland. Soon Stavernodden Fyr lighthouse appeared and a reasonably sheltered channel opened up in front of me as the last headland was an anti-climax.

Day 245.3 Coming into Stavern with the large boatsheds along the shoreI paddled past the lighthouse and down the channel into Stavern with the force five blowing me along. I was planning to cross Larviksfjord at once but saw a shop beside the small boat marina. I paddled up and pulled the boat onto the floating jetty. There were two groups of friendly sailors I got chatting to when I landed. I bought food and returned to continue but the wind was up to a force six again.

Day 245.4 A collection of vintage 'snekker' fishing boats in one of Stavern harboursOne of the sailing boats suggested a coffee and we chatted as it brewed. I then decided to pitch the tent on the grass nearby and stay in Stavern. Once I was sorted I went for a small walk through this nice town.

In the evening the couple who made the coffDay 245.5 Looking across the harbour inlet at Stavern to the old fortee, Espen and Sunya, invited me and the other two sailors on board for fish soup. It was delicious and rich with at least 10 different ingredients. We had a nice chat for a couple of hours until it got dark. I then wrote the blog and got a reasonably early night. The forecast tomorrow is better in the morning and I hope to do the remaining 15 km along this exposed coast to enter the shelter of Oslofjord before the next batch of bad weather arrives in the afternoon.

It had been an exciting morning and afternoon paddle, perhaps too exciting at times. The evening was great in a nice town with friendly company.

Day 244. Nevlunghavn weather and restday

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Distance 0km | Time 0hrs | Ascent 0m | Descent 0m

Day 244.1 The inner harbour at NevlunghavnThe forecast yesterday was now being reality outside the window of my cabin where there was a 6-7 metre high willow bush. It was thrashing about widely in the wind but the waves on the beach were not that big. I rechecked the forecast and it said it would be a force 5 in the morning rising to a force 6 in the afternoon. It was frustrating but I had to resign myself to staying here for another day and resort to plan B.

Plan B was to forget the paddle over Oslofjord to Svinnesund on the Swedish border. Svinnesund was up an inlet and involved a large detour. Instead I would take a more direct line to Oslo, which was a lot further than Svinnesund. Oslo was about 140 km from here, or 3 long days paddling. The next 30 km to Tonsbergtonne needed a force 5 or less as it was an exposed section with many shoals waiting to spring a surprise.

I then had a bit more of a sleep before getting up at 1000 and doing some office work until 1200 when Reidun arrived. She said Roy, the journalist, was at the bakery in Nevlunghavn and wanted to treat me to lunch there. I showered and then walked through Nevlunghavn to the bakery.

It was a 20 year old family run business which made bread, cakes and had a café also selling filled rolls and soup. It seemed to be doing a roaring trade and many of the locals seemed to come here for lunch and a social catch up. People seemed to rate it better than the hotel. We joined a table with 3 others and there was a lot of banter. Both Roy and Reidun had to return to work so I wandered through Nevlunghavn again.

Day 244.2 The outer harbour at NevlunghavnThe winter population of Nevlunghavn was about 500 but in the summer this can rise to 5000. There are a lot summer houses here which are just used for 2-3 months in the holidays and then closed up for the autumn. It was already autumn. All the houses, summer or permanent were well kept and many of the gardens had apple or pear trees heavy with fruit.

Day 244.3 Repairing lobster creels in Nevlunghavn for the start of the season on October 1stI wondered through the small lanes and around the small harbour area for two hours admiring the buildings and the village. There were a few older men repairing lobster creels for the season which opens on October 1st. These creels are made from slats of wood rather than netting over a wire frame.

I returned about 1600 and relaxed in the cabin. The management here had given me a free night in the cabin as I was stuck by the weather, which was very generous of them. I spent the rest of the afternoon looking out of the window at the increased wind which was a definite force six now, doing some paper work and looking at the weather forecasts for updates. It seems to be less dire for the next days now but it is an ever changing situation. I will have to play it by ear and take any opportunity when it comes.

It had been a frustrating day but Nevlunghavn was a nice place to be stuck in.